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 The greatest thing we can do is to show up for our lives and not be ashamed.

 -Anne Lamott

 

I'm a creature of the word, learning to tell my honest story.

I offer it here because telling stories is the road back home.

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Wednesday
Feb012012

6 weeks postpartum and a little depressed

The 6 week postpartum checkup couldn't come fast enough.

I took a mirror down there a couple times before the checkup, absolutely sure that I would never look the same again, thinking that if my nethers had a face, they'd look like The Hunchback of Notre Dame- all one eye swollen shut, one half of the face lifted higher than the other, a row of pockmarks and still visible stitches cutting railroad tracks across the skin.

I scooted my bum down the table, waiting for my midwife to gasp and be like, Oh dear, things are a bit hairy down here, got a lot of healing left to do sweetheart.


or maybe she'd tell me, like she did for my friend, that, I've got an angry vagina.


Yes, yes I do, I will reply.  
My vagina has been chronically pissed off for quite a while now.

But she said it looked pretty good, pretty normal, but that I should wait at least another week before intimate relations...and then she gave me Astroglide.

Astroglide.
A little black sample packet marked with a big gothic-fonted purple X.

The cover of the boys' movie, Astroboy, flashed through my mind.

from movieposterdb.com

Heyyy, Astroboy....

I got dressed, sat down at the little counter, and my sweet midwife sat across from me and told me she wanted to talk about my postpartum depression quiz.

This one page quiz is painfully obvious:
Do I cry more than usual?
Do I find it harder to get up in the morning?
Are things that normally made me happy not making me happy?

I usually answer conservatively so that I don't have to have the talk, but this time I just went for it.

So as soon as she says, I am concerned about your quiz, my eyes fill with tears.

Stop crying, stop crying! I am thinking.
You look depressed!

And indeed, I could feel the mantle of depression settling on my shoulders like a lead blanket.

You scored a ten out of twelve for postpartum depression.
Do you feel depressed?

What would depression look like? I ask.

Well, let's say your children bring you a flower, and usually you'd be like: Oh! Thank you for the beautiful flower!
Well, if you're depressed, you'd be like: Oh. (monotone voice) thanks for the flower. sob. sob. sob.

Well, if my kids brought me a flower, I think I'd be happy, I say.

Maybe I'm depressed because I'm not getting any flowers.

Maybe I'm crying because it just feels so good to have someone sit down next to me, look deep into my eyes, and tell me they're concerned for me.

Maybe I'm scoring high on the one page quiz because I just had a house fire, lost my dog, and got 50 stitches in my angry Frankengina after a traumatic 45 minute birth on the floor of our temporary bedroom in our temporary house!

I don't know, but I think I'm doing pretty decent considering the circumstances.
Not that I'm trying to "do decently," I am honestly trying to just be where I am, to work through it day by day.

She prescribes me Zoloft.
I ask her if Zoloft would feel similar to what happens when I drink a good cup of coffee: I feel like I can handle the day, the sun shines a little brighter, my breath smells a little...more metallic.

She says it does feel somewhat like that, and I can take it for just a few weeks to get over the hump if I want to, that the problem with postpartum is that the longer it goes untreated, the harder it is to kick.

I go home and ask Michael if he thinks I'm depressed because I figure that one of the signs of depression could be that I don't even realize how badly I am doing.

He says he thinks I'm doing really well considering.
He says, don't take the Zoloft.

I think about it, and for me, here's the thing:
It's not that I am against anti-depressants or anything like that, but I think I know myself enough to know that I need to feel what I feel right now.

I need to know how bad it is so I can know where my heart is really at, so I can begin to heal.

I am afraid that if I start taking Zoloft, I will take it for the rest of my life, because who wouldn't want to pop a pill and feel a bit happier about living each day?

It's one thing if I can't get off the couch, if diapers aren't getting changed, food isn't getting made, and I haven't washed my hair for a week.

This has happened, but not consistently.
So I guess I am sometimes depressed, depending on the day and how much chocolate and coffee I consume to get me through it.

I think I am experiencing the normal ups and downs of a really difficult season in life.

And for now, I am just going to ride it out.
I've got a supportive husband, awesome friends, a great family, a lot of things to help me through this.
I've got midwives who call to check on me, even giving me their personal cell phone numbers so I can have a lifeline.

And I've got my faith, which helps because it gives me the courage to be honest, and the reminder that He's got the whole world in his hands, including my little piece of it.

And I've got my blog, which helps me to work out what I think about myself and about life, and which brings me huge encouragement in the form of your comments and your readership.

So, I am going to try and get a medical prescription for therapeutic massage, and I am going to try and start taking a Zumba class, or at least a ten minute walk around the neighborhood each day, and I am going to continue to self-medicate with bars of Lindt dark chocolate with sea salt, and not beat myself up for extra caloric intake.

I don't want to freeze myself in the place of pain, I want to move through it, even if it feels like I am walking in the valley of the shadow of death for weeks and weeks....and for the record, it doesn't feel like that.
I have good days and I have bad days...and that's what life is about man.

After my 6 week checkup, Malachi and I went to the dermatologist- him to get his skin checked for moluscum contagiosum; me, to get a full body scan for any weird moles, and to get three warts removed.

I had to strip down to my undies and sit on the table while a sweet older Irish man who looked like he should be walking bow-legged and kilted through the green fields of Ireland, inspected every part of me.

He started with my toes, spreading each one apart to see if there were any weird lumpies or bumpies.
I looked down, and there, between every single one of my toes, was a lot of lint.

Now that, is depressing.

*I have to confess that the awesomeness of the word "Frankengina" did not originate with me. It came from my bridesmaid and friend Becky who coined this phrase with her husband after amazonically birthing their first child.

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Reader Comments (13)

Trinity, Thank you for your transparency. Your blog has been a blessing to me. I'll continue to pray for God's grace and peace to be manifest in you and your family.

February 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLeah

Praying for you, my sweet, sweet friend. And praising God that you're still making me laugh out loud, even in the midst of your dark time.

February 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCara

Don't dismiss the meds entirely. Sometimes depression is a problem of chemistry - your body and brain have been flooded with hormones and various chemicals for years now as you have borne and nurtured each of your children, and sometimes it takes a while for the brain chemistry to catch up with the rest of you and what's happened to you. I had PPD after my third and took an antidepressant for a year. It didn't numb me out or make me feel any less - on the contrary it aligned my emotions with what was actually happening around me (off meds they had gotten off-the-chart crazy intense). I felt much more ME on them while I needed them. I'm not saying take them - but if you need to, don't feel badly about it. Sometimes chemical problems require a chemical solution, and I think we often make or let women feel badly when they need these medications. Hang in there - seek help and accept it when it's offered. I'm praying for you! Laura

Oh my gosh, your angry Frankengina?! Hysterical! I don't have kids, so I don't know what anything post-partum is like, but considering the events that have happened in your past few months-- I think you're doing pretty dang good! (cause of course, i know you, so i know this.) but seriously, i think your self-prescribed medication of walks, chocolate and no-calorie-counting will fix you right up. that, and giving yourself daily pats on the back for raising four kids under age five. That'd be enough for me to take a zoloft.

February 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

I don't know you (we met breifly at Willie's b-day party), BUT given everything that you've been through and all the responsibilities that come along with raising all those litte ones I say you are doing awesome to just get up in the morning and make it through the day...sheesh! Low-level priorities man... hot shower in the morning, nice cuppa coffee, get dressed, take care of kiddos all day, dinner = success! Otherwise known as survival mode! But, if Zoloft will help to do survival mode better or give you a different perspective... why not?! And you are very brave for taking the mirror to the nethers... that's scary stuff after a rough delivery.

February 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSara O

Good advice! Thank you all of you for your comments, and I promise I won't be trying to win some kind of hero badge for not taking medication- if I need it, I will go for it. I agree that there are chemical things that medication can realign...I don't want to get to the point where I am toughing it out at the expense of my family's sanity.

February 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTrinity and the brood

I've struggled with the blues most of my life. I think some people are just naturally inclined toward sadness. I don't get that vibe from you, Trinity - I think your recent "depression" is situational. Of course I don't know you well (heck - I haven't even met you yet), but from your incredibly insightful soul to your ability to find the golden nuggets amidst ashes, I get the sense that you're not the zoloft type. Not that it's a band-aid or a crutch - some people really need it - but before we make that huge leap (from which you can't always get down easily) we need to ask ourselves - is this a part of me forever or a part of me now? Is this sadness a passing phase or a life-long cloud looming above? I couldn't agree more with what you said: "It's not that I am against anti-depressants or anything like that, but I think I know myself enough to know that I need to feel what I feel right now." I couldn't agree more. Hunker down and hold your loved ones close - I know you can weather this storm, Trinity. Frankengina and all ;)

February 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLauren Udwari

By the grace of God, I have not had to endure a house fire, I did not have 50 stitches in my Frankengina after giving birth (had 5), nor do I have 4 children (I have 2, which you know). But, I have been struggling with some depression, too. I have had a bit of anxiety/depression since before I was married. I have never taken anything for it, but I have a bottle of Zoloft that my doc recently prescribed sitting in the cabinet. I haven't taken it for the same reasons that you described. For me, it has come down to this... if my attitude and my mood are weighing my family down and affecting my relationships I will take it... or at least try it for a couple of months for the sake of my family. Right now, exercise and human interaction are getting me by (being a stay-at-home mom is isolating) so I make an effort to call friends or go somewhere every day, even if it is just taking my kids to the library or to the gym with me(they have childcare). Like you, I have good days and bad days. Kathleen Kendall-Tackett has done a lot of research in this area and has written many good books including Non-Pharmacologic Treatments for Depression in New Mothers and The Hidden Feelings of Motherhood. If you do have to resort to medication for a while, please don't feel like a failure... you are only trying to do what is best for yourself and your family. Trust me, more people take medication than you think! Hang in there, Trinity! Your nethers will heal :) Praying for you, dear.

February 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterOlivia

I just realized that my first sentence sounds like this... "By the grace of God, I do not have 4 children." I would rewrite it this way "By the grace of God, I have not had to endure a house fire. period. I also, do not have 50 stitches nor can I relate to having 4 young children." Wish I had caught that before I published!

February 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterOlivia

This is hilarious. I know there's a lot more to this post, but I can't get over the first part about the 6 week visit :) I read that part twice. I had a similar amount of stitches & wreckage down there, so I had Rob take pictures. It took me a month to look at the pictures. When I finally looked, I couldn't tell what anything was. Horrifying.

February 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterA

Praying for you Trinity...your blog and your genuine heart have been such a blessing to me, and I will be interceding for you during this time. It's the least I can do, the song I'll post below has been a major blessing me to while going through my own chaos...it may help you too. But please know you are loved, appreciated, and being kept in my prayers!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=5R54Hbjv70c

February 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I was on zoloft for a bit and it really helped during my blue season. Be sure to pair it with a great community and/or counselor so you're not on it longer than you need to be.

February 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFreckledear

.. and I like to call mine "baby purples" because I feel like it's not true depression, but it's still different than my normal self.

February 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFreckledear

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